Editorial employees to fight for local news and address pay, diversity, job security.
Editorial employees at three Gannett-owned publications in the Hudson Valley — The Journal News, Poughkeepsie Journal and Times and Herald-Record — announced Wednesday that they are unionizing with the NewsGuild of New York Local 31003. With more than 80% of eligible staffers signed on to the effort, the Hudson Valley News Guild has requested voluntary recognition from Gannett management.
The Hudson Valley News Guild joins thousands of media professionals across the country who have organized with The NewsGuild-CWA to preserve and protect local news outlets. The group is the third Gannett unit in the region to organize with the NewsGuild of New York this year, following the Record Guild and the Atlantic DOT Guild. Workers at several other Gannett-owned publications have unionized in recent years — including journalists at the South Bend Tribune and the Palm Beach Post and Daily News in 2020 and the Arizona Republic in 2019.
As as recent article by Angela Fu in Poynter points out, “In the past decade, workers at news publications have launched more than 200 union drives, and over 90% of them have been successful.
“Media outlets have called it a ‘wave,’” the article notes. “But it’s more than that, said University of Toronto associate professor Nicole Cohen. It’s a movement.”
Union members of the Hudson Valley News Guild are fighting for job security and for greater protections against reductions in force and wage and benefit cuts, especially as media companies continue to slash newsroom staff and put stakeholders’ profit over the workers and their communities.
“I have been lucky to work in my community, for my community. We are organizing to ensure fair wages and reliable benefits so we can attract and retain new staff members who add to our diversity and perspective,” said Nancy Cutler, a reporter at The Journal News.
Reporter Peter Kramer said, “For generations, the three papers represented by our union have been trusted allies to the distinct communities they serve. Our organizing effort is the best way to strengthen that alliance in the face of Gannett’s drive to regionalization.”
Patrick Oehler, a photographer for the Poughkeepsie Journal, said, “Our state’s oldest newspaper is being kept alive by a small group of dedicated professionals who are seeking to maintain their editorial independence, which fits with the character of the region we serve. By forming a union we hope to continue to serve our readers as best as we can guided by our paper’s motto: “Here shall the press the people’s right maintain.’”
“I’m proud to welcome the editorial workers of The Hudson Valley News Guild into our union,” said Susan DeCarava, president of The NewsGuild of New York. “These workers are fighting for stronger local news in the Hudson Valley and more diverse newsrooms that can continue to be a critical lifeline and watchdog for our local communities. We call on Gannett for swift recognition so that we can begin negotiations for a first contract and ensure that the collective voice of these workers, and the interest of readers, are heard, and respected.”